This morning we decided to walk up the hill from the canal to Grendon and Baddesley Ensor. On the way we spotted these road names. One for the Canal and River Trust (Carts Lane) another from the Western movies (Boot Hill) and finely for us Brummies (Little Brum).
The main reason for walking up the hill was to visit WH Gayton & Sons Bakery in Maypole Lane. It was established in 1919 by Grandad Gayton, the bakery has been kept going through thick & thin, by the one & only Gayton family. His grandson & granddaughter keep his traditions alive and produce the finest handmade crafted bread & cakes. Mrs Gayton Snr. gave a talk to June’s Craft Club and we wanted to see what the bakery was like and purchase some fresh bread and cakes. We were made very welcome and came away with some lovey produce.
Baddesley Ensor is a mining village and there were mining activities in the area for centuries before the two main shafts, which formed Baddesley Colliery, were sunk in 1850. Although called Baddesley Colliery it was actually just over the border in Baxterley. From then on until 1989 when the pit closed most Baddesley men worked in some capacity at the mine. The worst disaster at the mine occurred on 2 May 1882. There was a fire followed by an explosion and 23 men lost their lives in attempting to rescue nine nightshift workers trapped by the fire.
Baddesley Ensor it the highest point for miles around and is known for its common. There are beautiful views to be seen looking over towards Birmingham and also Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
Returning to the boat for coffee and our fresh cakes we motored down to Bradley Green Bridge and filled with water from a quick filling tap. We met and passed the time of day with the Waterways Chaplin who was there to visit boaters on the permanent mooring, a very nice fellow.
As we approached Grendon Dock the staff were manouvering a working boat which had jsut come out of the dock after being blacked. Another two boats had gone and the dock was being pumped dry.
We stopped for lunch at one of our favourite spots near Bridge 50 and then motored on to Alvecote where we moored opposite the Samuel Barlow pub. By this time the weather was so warm that I am afraid my milk bottle legs had to come out.
After mooring up I went for a walk to explore the area and found Alvecote Priory which is a ruined Benedictine Priory. Now very little remains of the priory, most of the walls have been eroded but a fairly high wall remains on one side. The main entrance arch is the most impressive feature, still standing at around 20 feet high. It was founded 1159 by William Burdett as a dependency of Great Malvern Priory. After returning from a crusade, Burdett accused his wife of being unfaithful and stabbed her, and as penance founded the monastery. Little is known of the history of this small priory. We only know the names of five of its priors. The first prior of whom any record survives was William de Wikwane who resigned in 1282. The last priors of this small house occurred in rapid succession. William Sutton was recorded as prior in 1535 but by the following year he had been succeeded by William Umberleye. It was probably he who finally surrendered the house to the King's commissioners when the mother house of Great Malvern was finally dissolved in 1540.
A little further up the canal I spotted this old wooden boat (NB. Dane) being refurbished at A.P Boatbuilding’s yard and asked if I might take a look at it as it looked really interesting. Ade who was working on the boat welcomed me in and we had a good chat about his work. He had refurbished his own boat and decided to see if he could make a go of it as a profession having been in the business for 20 years.
The oak he uses to rebuild the boats has to be seasoned for 2 years before it can be used and so anyone who decided they want a real traditional boat must plan well ahead. He has recently completed a boat for the Black Country Museum which required a complete new back end. Each boat takes several thousand hours to complete and thus his clients tend to be Heritage museums. The current boat is for the NBHF(the Narrow Boat Heritage Foundation) who are seeking donations to help with their work in saving old boats. Visit their website at ww.nbhf.co.uk/
Next door at the Narrowcraft Yard are several old working boats in their basin.
They also seem to have cornered the market in old Reliant 3 Wheeler vans. This one is signed up as Trotters Independent Traders. The Reliant factory used to be just down the road so it is not far from where it was made.
The other side of the railway line is the Alvecote Nature pools which were home to lots of wild life and would be worth a visit on future trips.